Harrogate Town would 'easily' cope in League Two - IF they got promoted

Joe Leesley believes that “every single one of Harrogate Town’s players” would cope with the step up to the Football League.

Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 8:25 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 8:28 am
Joe Leesley has made 134 starts for Harrogate Town since joining the club in 2016, contributing 34 goals and no fewer than 71 assists. Picture: Matt Kirkham

The 25-year-old left-winger has spent the last three and a half months on loan at League Two Stevenage, making 10 appearances for the Boro.

Meanwhile, his parent club have established themselves as genuine contenders for the National League title, and sat just four points behind leaders Barrow when the 2019/20 campaign was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It remains to be seen how the issues of promotion and relegation will be decided after member clubs voted to abandon regular season fixtures, however Leesley insists that if Town ended up moving up a division, his team-mates would have nothing to fear.

“Harrogate would do okay in League Two,” he said.

“I didn’t think that the standard was too much different to what I’ve experienced in the National League.

“Obviously, I can only judge it on the games I played in, but the hustle and bustle is very similar. Maybe the fitness levels go up another notch.

“You do notice a difference in some of the top teams. I played against Crewe, Plymouth and Exeter, who are all up there in the promotion places and they have some top quality players.

“But, there is so much quality in the squad at Harrogate. Every single one of Harrogate Town’s players could easily make the step up.

“They’re good enough, it’s just so hard to get out of the National League when only one goes up automatically and the play-offs are such a lottery.”

With his loan deal at Stevenage due to expire at the end of this week, Leesley will return to the Town fold on April 26.

And although players are currently training in isolation with the country still in a state of lockdown, the former England ‘C’ international says he is looking forward to getting back involved.

“The next time I will be kicking a ball I’ll be back in a Town shirt,” added Leesley, who still has two years left on his contract at Wetherby Road.

“I’ve had a few conversations with the gaffer [Simon Weaver] and I’m looking forward to being among the lads again. I’ve had a great time at Stevenage, but I’ve missed them, particularly Mark Beck.

“I’m itching to get the boots back on and try and get back in the Harrogate team. Obviously, that’s going to be very difficult when everyone has been playing so well, but I’ll be trying my hardest.

“I’ve been here a long time, so this club is special to me and I want it to be successful. Hopefully I can play a part in that.”